Week 6 Review: How to Cope with a Disrespectful Parent
Parents just want what is best for their child. This a phrase you hear on a regular basis, but sometimes parents are over-the-top in their methods for getting "what's best for their child". Other parents are just plain rude about it. All to often these parents just want to complain or want someone else to blame for a child not doing as they want them to do. No matter what the reason, if there even is one, chances are that as a teacher you will run into a disrespectful parent. Don't panic though, Laura Candler from Corkboard Connections is here to save the day with her blogpost, How to Cope with a Disrespectful Parent.
Although dealing with a rude parent might make you want to scream, here are some great suggestions from Laura and other educators after a new teacher, "Lynn", posted this problem. "The parent of two of my students is being completely inappropriate in her communication with me. She is harassing, called me names, and cussed. She questions every grade given to her children and takes it upon herself to tell me how to teach. She is also a teacher at another school district. Did I mention that this is a private Catholic school? I am getting very little support from my principal, but my mentor teacher is very supportive. Any suggestions on how to get this parent to back off? I am a first year teacher, and I have been told she causes a problem every year with one teacher or another. What can you do when administration will not put a stop to harassing parents?" Laura posted this problem on Teaching Resources and got over 140 responses from fellow teachers! Here are a summary of a few she picked out of the bunch and her own suggestions from past experience. The first suggestion made by Mary Hurst was to keep record of every conversation you have with the parent(s). This will help you not only have information to call upon later on subjects covered, but to also cover your back in case a parent starts making accusations as to how you have talked back to them. Keep every email saved and journals of face-to-face conversations. You may also need these if you are forced to take legal action later on. The second suggestion, which was made by Ginger Henderson, was to stop all communication. If they send you an email, respond with something like "thank you for letting me know of your concerns" so that they know you received it. Then, just let it all roll off your back and keep on teaching. If they have a real problem they can make an appointment in which you should make sure to have an administrator or mentor teacher attend also. The last suggestion that Laura pulled from the post was by Vi Petalu. Her recommendation was to call a prearranged meeting with an administrator, mentor teacher, parent, and a stack of data. Record the conversation if possible. If the parent won't give consent to have it recorded, have someone write down everything discussed and make a note that the parent refused a recording. She said "Discourage bad behavior with inconvenience and facts. After all, if she truly has a concern, she won't mind taking her own personal time to get things cleared up, right?"
Thinking back on her years of teaching, Laura remembered the first time a parent had yelled at her about her teaching style and practices. She said that she had stood there in shock, tongue-tied, unable to say a word. She wasn't sure how to respond in a respectful way, but knew she shouldn't have to just stand there and take the abuse. She did though, and ended up breaking down after the parent finally left and crying. That night, after explaining what had happened, her husband said she should have just walked out if the parent was going to be so disrespectful. At first Laura thought she couldn't do that, then she realized yes, she could. And she did the next time the parent showed up. She started out talking to the parent as calmly and politely as she could. When that didn't work she told the parent that it seemed they weren't agreeing and to come back and schedule a meeting time when an administrator could be there. The parent didn't take the hint that this was the clue for her to leave so instead, Laura left. The parent was shocked and yelled after her that she was going to report this to the principal. Laura told her that was where she was headed and the parent was more than welcome to join her so they could resolve the issue now. The parent didn't take her up on her offer. She told her principal what happened and he fully supported her and backed her up when the parent came in later on. To get more suggestions on how to handle this type of situation make sure to check out the other responses to Lynn's question. Also, follow Laura on Pinterest, FaceBook, and Twitter!